I’ve just got back to our apartment after a day spent at the Travel Blogger Exchange 2011 conference at Vancouver’s Trade and Convention Centre.
I think it’s like so many other events that I’ve attended, where it’s the people I meet that make it all worthwhile. You know how you take a class and think the instruction is adequate but you’re learning the most from your other classmates?
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the workshops were poor, it’s just that I didn’t feel I was really taking away much that was really new to me.
And it gets depressing to go to a workshop on monetizing your blog where the take-away message is that it will, a) take forever – if it happens at all, and to, b) keep your day job to support your travel blog. I kind of knew that already, so that’s fine if that’s the basic message, I just don’t feel like it should be told to us in a workshop under a banner on how to make money. Truthfully? I wasn’t really expecting much. In fact, I was more curious than anything.
I am not writing on this blog every day so that I can get rich… obviously.
I am writing here every day because it’s kind of a compulsion now. Originally it was to create a place where I could send editors to show them my ‘portfolio’ of writing, and though it would be nice if there was a financial return at some point, it’s not really the goal. As well, this blog has morphed into something else; it’s become a place where I want to share not only what I’m finding in the world but what I’m learning as a result of those encounters, whether at home or in a different culture.
In another panel discussion, I heard that I shouldn’t be trotting out tired cliches and boring catch phrases. Really? That’s sort of Travel Writing 101. I assumed that most of the audience would be w-a-a-a-a-y beyond needing to hear that kind of basic stuff about writing…but maybe there are more new writers in the audience than I realized.
Where it all felt like it was working for me was when I got to meet some of the other bloggers like Matt from www.matt-gibson.org and Gary from Everything Everywhere It was great too, to see Jen Leo again after all these years and it’s always a genuine pleasure to catch up with the indomitable Evelyn Hannon of Journeywoman Travel Magazine.
And then there was Benny Lewis, the Irish polyglot who is now moving to Istanbul to learn Turkish. He gave an inspiring speech on how to learn a new language or two.
But the real highlight from today was listening to Tracey Friley of One Brown Girl blog stand up and tell us about her recent party for eight girls to celebrate getting their first passports. She took them to get their hair done for their photos and made the day a celebration. She pointed out that only 30% of Americans have passports; you can imagine how few of those numbers would be young girls, especially brown young girls.
She held this Passport Party to help these girls realize there was a bigger world out there, and that it was not only possible, but truly attainable, to be a part of that larger world, to wander at will and to imagine how that might shape and change their perspective of their place in that world.
Hers was the only presentation that received spontaneous applause and cheers. I’m proud to say I was one of the people yelling the loudest. What a COOL plan.
TBEX is still a pretty new concept and I’m sure it will evolve as it grows. I don’t think there are too many people who have a real handle on the shape-shifting world of new media. It’s all moving in multiple directions and at warp speed. I think everyone is just trying to carve out their own path and share their thoughts on the experience. For me it’s enough to hang out with other people who are figuring it out and risking new ideas and creating innovative new partnerships.
What TBEX facilitates is the opportunity to meet so many others in this tribe of travel bloggers; all of us coming together in the West Coast glass and timber cathedral of the Vancouver Convention Centre.